Verdict: MEMOIRS OF AN OUTLAW is a fascinating and surprisingly personal look from the inside of the war in Iraq. It’s an eye-opening glimpse into the daily rigors of the select few among us who volunteer for a job that seems at the same time honorable and unbearable.
MEMOIRS OF AN OUTLAW is the first outing by Tanner, a retired Marine and veteran who served in active combat duty in Afghanistan and, the subject of this story, Iraq. It is an inside look at the daily workings of this representative group of the military, from how he was somewhat deceived into his grunt enlistment to the actual boots on the ground activity and sometimes inactivity of his platoon, the Delta Company Outlaws out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It begins with his first day of boot camp on September 11, 2001 and centers on events from there through the main narrative about a seven month tour in a particularly dangerous time in Fallujah in 2004.
It is a little slow and technical at the beginning (and at other necessary times), but the story is a nearly daily diary and offers fascinating insight into this life. It’s never represented as a fun journey and the danger is inherent, but this personal look at the almost concurrent mind-numbing boredom and constancy of death and loss is something most of the world never sees.
The coping skills the soldiers develop and the intensity of the bonds they make on this endless tour are impressive. The awareness gained by the reader into the actual experience of the soldiers should foster a better understanding about the shock they encounter returning to a relatively luxurious and insulated society that would otherwise never know what they have seen or endured.
Tanner is honest without being dramatic and seems to be almost gentle to the reader at times. He has a way of explaining complex training and military activities without being condescending or overly technical. Even for those who skip the enlightenment, this book is important and well done. Beyond the initial growing pains, once the reader and narrator are on the same page, it is a rare look into a very foreign and frightening world endured by the few to protect the masses.
MEMOIRS OF AN OUTLAW is a fascinating and surprisingly personal look from the inside of the war in Iraq. It’s an eye-opening glimpse into the daily rigors of the select few among us who volunteer for a job that seems at the same time honorable and unbearable.
Reviewed by Kat Toland for IndieReader.